Wildlife Trafficking and Poaching Ring Charged with Crimes

Wildlife Trafficking and Poaching Ring Charged with Crimes title=
Gilberto Lopez Hernandez, Jaime Mendoza Avila, and Walfre Lopez posing with a deer taken on Nov. 7, 2020 (Ventura County District Attorney’s Office/California Fish and Wildlife)
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By the edhat staff

Six people have been arrested following a bust by the California Fish and Wildlife of suspected poaching in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties.

State game wardens' year long investigation is also focused on finding a seventh suspect who is connected to this poaching ring that involves a Ventura County market and electric-bikes.

Dubbed the "E-Bike Crew" by authorities, these men are suspected of illegally killing local wildlife while riding electric bikes.

On Monday, Ventura County District Attorney Erik Nasarenko announced 21 charges had been filed against the suspects, including allegations of forgery, conspiracy, receiving of stolen property, animal cruelty and possession of an untagged bear.

The following suspects are accused of working together to fraudulently obtain California hunting licenses, tags, and other documents: Martin M. Bravo (age 30 of Oxnard), Martin Bravo Sr. (59 of Oxnard), Jaime Mendoza Avila (41 of Porterville), Walfre Lopez y Lopez (38 of Oxnard), Gilberto Lopez Hernandez (34 of Thousand Oaks) and Cristian Lopez Perez (31 of Los Angeles).

Juventino Reyes Guerrero (44 of Piru) is accused of doling out the permits while working the Fish and Wildlife licensing desk inside Lizette’s Market in Piru.

Mounted animals heads believed to be killed illegally is seen in a shed belonging to Martin M. Bravo, photographed during a search warrant on Dec. 8, 2021 (Ventura County District Attorney’s Office/California Fish and Wildlife)

Court documents allege from June 2019 to October 2021, the suspects falsified and reprinted hunting tags bypassing California hunting regulations and killing more deer, pigs, and bears than legally allowed. The prosecution alleges the suspects were motivated by personal gain, profit, and entertainment.

Reyes Guerrero is accused of re-printing hunting tickets, claiming poor print quality, while providing the "E-Bike Crew" with additional tags. 

The investigating began when a warden crossed paths with the suspects riding e-bikes with firearms in the Los Padres National Forest. Mendoza Avila reportedly told the warden they're part of the "E-Bike Crew from Oxnard." A warning was given for riding with a live round in the weapon's chamber.

The same warden received numerous complaints and tips from fellow hunters regarding the "E-Bike Crew" seen killing more animals than required with some taking place in wildlife sanctuaries. The suspects would reportedly ride across Ventura and Santa Barbara counties, wearing camouflage and communitcating by radio to hunt animals, and use e-bikes and trailers to transport their kill.

Throughout the investigation, wardens were able to locate the men on camera as they illegally hunted in the Sespe Condor Sanctuary which provides a nesting area for the endangered California Condor.

A total of 120 tags were never reported and 64 were illegally reprinted as part of this poaching ring.

Gilberto Lopez Hernandez poses with a bear killed on Sept. 25, 2021. (Ventura County District Attorney’s Office/California Fish and Wildlife)

Search warrants were issued and throughout Ventura County last December where dozens of antlers and animal skulls were recovered, including a mountain lion skull. It's illegal to hunt mountain lions in California.

Additionally, a bear was in the process of being stuffed to put on display and freezers were full of various animal meats.

According to court reports, the majority of suspects admitted to using more hunting tags and killing more animals than allowed. The owners of Lizette's Market denied being aware of the poaching scheme.

Martin M. Bravo, Martin Bravo Sr., Jaime Mendoza Avila, Gilberto Lopez Hernandez, Cristian Lopez Perez and Juventino Reyes Guerrero were arraigned on Monday and remain in custody with bail set at $200,000. Walfre Lopez y Lopez has not yet been located and has an active arrest warrant.



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bicyclist Dec 09, 2022 06:29 PM
Wildlife Trafficking and Poaching Ring Charged with Crimes

"Walfre Lopez y Lopez has not yet been located and has an active arrest warrant." he's in the first picture here, says he's the dude with the orange hoodie "Heaven LA". so if you see him CALL it in!

Chip of SB Dec 09, 2022 06:43 PM
Wildlife Trafficking and Poaching Ring Charged with Crimes

Shooting bears is perfectly fine if it’s done legally. The tags are inexpensive, but the meat spoils quickly and the penalties for wasting meat and hide are stiff. Better know what you’re doing. Also have to send in a part of the animal for research, one of the many benefits of legal hunting. However, poaching a bear is quite another matter. Legal hunting is beneficial for wildlife and provides valuable funding for conservation. Poaching is destructive to wildlife and is effectively stealing an invaluable resource from the public. Very glad these guys were stopped.

Luvaduck Dec 10, 2022 08:29 AM
Wildlife Trafficking and Poaching Ring Charged with Crimes

Arrest them, fine them, jail them and when their term is over, keep their guns & ammo. Give them backpack containing a Swiss army knife, a quality qt bottle of water, a small waterproof tarp, a slingshot and a box of energy bars. Release them far into the backcountry by helicopter wearing what they wore in their bragging pictures plus army issue boots. Tell them to have at it and hunt their way home.

Channelfog Dec 10, 2022 01:38 AM
Wildlife Trafficking and Poaching Ring Charged with Crimes

Poachers are horrible and these are the worst as they obviously are not starving. They're doing this for Macho Ego. In Uruguay most mammals are protected due to over hunting, driven primarily by hunger and poverty. That being said, we and our neighbors have had to run poachers off our land at various times. The main culprit is an old, poor, illiterate local who cannot afford meat and has always poached. While I one cannot condone poaching, there is a huge difference between the hungry poor and these ebike yahoos. Carpinchos (AKA capibaras) are apparently very good on the bbq. They live around our creek, attracting poachers.
My grandfather was a part time game warden and when he caught a poacher, and knew that he was poor and had a hungry family at home, let them off with a warning, and with the meat to feed their family. Life is usually shades of grey, not simple black and white.

doulie Dec 10, 2022 09:25 AM
Wildlife Trafficking and Poaching Ring Charged with Crimes

In what manner does this case involve 'wildlife trafficking?" How did these chubby people move their ill-gotten gains out of the forest? In addition to the illegal meat that was seized, I hope the freezers were also seized and the Fish & Wildlife desk is moved out of Lizette's. People at Lizette's Market denying knowledge of this illegal activity is as laughable as Biden denying he knew of Hunter's business activities.

Channelfog Dec 10, 2022 03:22 PM
Wildlife Trafficking and Poaching Ring Charged with Crimes

Doulie- It says that they used ebikes and autos. I guess one could lash the bear on the back of an ebike like a passenger behind the driver; a lashed bear hug. "Oh officer, I'm just giving this bear a lift down the road." I hope they fully prosecute all of these morons as they give hunters a bad name.

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